Student housing opportunities in St. Petersburg or how much students pay to get a bed in a dorm
The universities of St. Petersburg attract high school graduates from many regions of Russia and different countries all over the world. However, those students who have been admitted are facing a problem of finding a suitable housing. That is hardly a surprise that most of the newcomers tend to living in a dorm room, as this option is is a lot cheaper compared to apartment rental.
Although almost all of the universities in St. Petersburg have dormitory facilities and provide housing opportunities for students, there are still some problems that educational institutions have been encountering – an insufficient number of dorm rooms, the need for expanding accommodation capacity, maintenance of existing facilities. One of the most well-known student housing complexes in the city is the Inter-university Campus.
Inter-university Campus occupies the whole block in one of the residential areas of St. Petersburg. There are ten ten-storey accommodation facilities on its territory, which are home to more than eight thousand students from thirty-five universities of St. Petersburg.
The amenities provided to those who live in the dorm rooms are pretty standard ones for a Russian dormitory. Altogether, there are twenty-eight 2-bed and 3-bed apartments, a kitchen, three shower rooms, and two toilet rooms located on one floor. There is usually a kettle in the room, and microwave, oven and a stove in the kitchen. Within the campus territory, laundries and dining facilities can be found. In addition, there is a beauty salon, a shoe repair shop, a gym, and a swimming pool.
A monthly payment for students of public universities is 2,955 roubles (46 USD approximately). The rest are paying 4,385 roubles per month (~69 USD).
Five to ten years ago, criminal incidents on the campus were something not unheard of. Local people preferred to stay away from the campus area. To give an example, in April 2014, police forces prevented a massive fight from happening. Police officers detained almost 20 people - campus residents among them - who gathered in the park, across from the living areas. The same year, another incident happened - at the end of September, unidentified persons stabbed a student who was making his way to the dorm. The media sources claimed that a boy was not allowed to pass through the security checkpoint, since he had been a few minutes late to a curfew time.
To solve the issue, the campus was enclosed with a fence, identification system was introduced, and video surveillance devices were installed. The incidents, as a result, tailed off gradually. The campus is now finally shaking off its bad reputation.
According to Konstantin Boychuk, a student activist ”In the ’90s and early ’00s, Inter-university Campus was a place that enjoyed a bad reputation. Anything could happen there. There were no video surveillance cameras or fences at the time. In the evenings, lots of suspicious people were gathering on campus. They climbed in the dorms through the windows, molested girls and beat the guys. They could even stab another person with a knife. All these terrible stories have now become a thing of the past.”
Konstantin added that nowadays it would be quite difficult to enter the campus area unnoticed - the cameras are all over the place, security are controlling the territory, electronic access cards are required to pass through the checkpoint. Those who have been authorised to access the area, i.e. residents of the buildings, may however come and go anytime they want.
There are nonetheless unsolved issues. Three half-constructed buildings is one of them. The construction project was put into suspension many years ago. Now the unfinished buildings, which should have housed 3.5 thousand students, are falling into decay; one of them has cracked and caved in. Though on the outside these blocks look as if they were finished - even double-glass panes have been installed -, but no one has ever lived inside of them.
Construction completion dates got constantly moved, and now the entire project has been put on pause, because the executives running the campus are pursuing in court the contractor who did not manage the task.
Dormitories at the Mining University
There are currently eight dormitories in possession of Saint-Petersburg Mining University, and new student accommodations are usually put into service once every three years. All dormitory blocks are located on the territory of Vasilyevsky Island. All of them also differ remarkably — different settings and scenery — as their location and capacity varies.
Dormitory No. 3 situated on Nalichnaya Street provides corridor-type apartments. Students live there in either double or triple rooms with balconies and individual sanitary units. Apart from the rooms, the living space may also have form of a block, which is a trio of double rooms with a common lobby and a small storage room. There are blocks on each floor; they are also cheaper compared to the rooms and probably more comfortable, since they have some extra space.
Two kitchens are set on every floor. However, they are quite small and equipped with cutting tables and stoves only. It is generally assumed that students are leaving the kitchen to eat their meals in the dorm rooms. Each room is furnished and equipped with a desk lamp. The payment for accommodation in a triple room is 4,000 roubles per month (~63 USD), whereas the cost of living in a double room is 5,500 roubles (approximately 87 USD). The cheapest of all is living in a block, monthly payment is 3,900 roubles only (~62 USD).
Artem Osipov, a first - year student of the Department of Metallurgy, who came to study from Orenburg: ”I like everything here. Life in the dorm does not differ much from my life at home — it is cozy here, lots of space, and much much cheaper than apartment rental. And it is very quiet here - the walls are soundproof. We, students, are responsible for keeping our block clean, but the corridor and kitchens are the responsibility of the cleaning staff.”
Valentina Ovcharenko, a third-year student of the Faculty of Construction, is originally from Veliky Novgorod: ”It is a third year that I have been living in this dorm, and through all this time we are helping each other. For example, we have a chart group of our floor in social media, where everyone can ask the floormates for something they need - some sugar or a thermometer, just what I needed yesterday. I live in a room in the block, that is the best option in my opinion - more personal space, own storage, only one neighbour in the room, and the fee is actually 100 roubles less than what I would pay for living in a triple room.”
Dormitory No. 2, which is on Shevchenko Street, presents a striking contrast to the formerly discussed campus. It is quiet and peaceful here, wide corridors, decorative bars on the windows. Although all of the Mining University’s dormitories provide high level of comfort, this one is the best student house — only those who get the highest grades at the entrance exams can expect to be allocated a room in this building. The cost of accommodation is also higher - a bed in a double room is provided for eight thousand roubles a month (~127 USD).
Alik Selimov, a first-year Master’s Degree student of the Faculty of Oil & Gas, shares his experience of living in a dorm: ”I got my Bachelor's degree in Surgut and moved to St. Petersburg. I did not even expect I would be admitted to the Mining University. Living conditions here are excellent. I am getting along with my neighbours quite well. Monthly payment is a bit higher compared to other campuses, but the location is awesome — it only takes ten minutes by foot to get to the university. I could choose a cheaper location but it would be further from the university, then I would end up paying more for transportation.”
The dormitories - where the Mining University’s students live - are equipped with modern infrastructure: fitness facilities, computer centres, laundries, canteens and snack bars; there is even a swimming pool in some of the dorms.
Shortage of student housing
Despite that St. Petersburg has become a popular study destination in Russia, one of the main problems remains the lack of dormitory facilities. According to various estimates, there is a need for campuses that could fit in from 12 to 30 thousand students each. Then the city will be able to fulfil the housing demand.
Though there is still a lot to do, new campuses are being built nonetheless. For instance, the eighth dormitory of the Mining University was set up this autumn. Thanks to it, more Russian and foreign students have access to cheap student housing.